It’s been more than a year now that I have been running USEUM LTD the company built around http://useum.org; by definition the first social network for art built upon the concept of crowd-sourcing. It started off from my PhD in the broader field of new media for cultural heritage and I was lucky enough to have an open-minded supervisor in regards to the practical aspect of the PhD. So when the question came “Foteini, what do you want your PhD to be on? And beware, you will get very sick of it, so make sure it is something you are really fond of” I did some talking and then some more with one of my life-long mentors and now co-founder, my sister. And then the answer was “USEUM!”.
Being encouraged to transform my PhD into a start-up by my supervisor and having some experience on start-ups myself, I took advantage of UCL’s centre for entrepreneurship and of England’s simplified legislation regarding new companies and decided to found USEUM and properly register it at Companies House. Then, in February ‘12, so many things came back-to-back from the win at the Athens Startup Weekend 2012 to the largest presentation I’ve given to date to 100+ attendees at Telloglion Institute of Arts in Thessaloniki to the numerous Greek publicationssupporting our vision. The most important event of all of course will probably be considered the funding we got, which helped us the last few months develop USEUM to the platform of 5,786 artworks by 484 artists from 76 countries that it is today.
A big challenge is how I personally see USEUM, as the statement “I could have done so much, if I only had some money for my company” is no longer there for me. I was lucky enough to have a co-founder gifted in fundraising, some great investors, who believe in USEUM and to be surrounded by a great team of people, who are all, as Guy Kawasaki wisely insists, better than me. Thankfully today, several months after this moment of “No excuses for you anymore” occurred to me, I am optimistic, as all these months since the funding, I have experienced firsthand, step by step the development of a concrete company and of an even more concrete platform; but! Only time will tell.
USEUM is very much still at its infancy given that we are working very hard to launch in the summer a core aspect of the platform i.e. the “USEUM Shop”, the gift shop where all artists can seamlessly design and sell merchandise items; right after it we are planning to launch USEUM’s iOS app, whilst some major visual improvements are underway in a parallel trajectory… There are so many interesting things from USEUM to come that I, a pessimist deep-inside by nature, am almost excited. 🙂